Minor thoughts on DFW, literature, and weirdos

I don’t read biographies, really. This must be the first one I’ve read in years. On the other hand, I never had any chance of resisting a David Foster Wallace biography, what with having read just about everything he wrote and generally being fascinated and probably obsessed yes. Plus, it’s by D.T. Max, who wrote the absorbing–and crushing–New Yorker article on Wallace shortly after his death. If I didn’t read this biography, I’d never read any. Every Love Story is a Ghost Story is the name of the book, and it’s a very good one. The book I mean, not the name. But the name as well.

It’s a super handsome book, by the way. At least, my copy is. Nice paper.

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Transcribed Phone Sex, reviewed

“Do you think we talked enough about sex?”

Sex, obviously, is dirty and animal and dumb, and that’s all fine, but damn, can’t it be smart too? Like, just fucking interesting? It seems to me that we tend to screen off the bits of our heads that are most into sex, and regard them as not fully part of ourselves–as more brain chemistry than personality. But there’s a lot more going on behind that screen than just the brutish workings of your chosen sex hormone.

A few days ago, I finished reading Nicholson Baker’s Vox. The whole book is a single phone conversation between two strangers, nothing but dialogue. They meet on some sort of telephone hook-up sex line–their “wires cross”–and launch into one of the most engaging, intelligent, funny, sexy, true conversations I’ve ever read in a book.

No idea what the cup of tea is doing there. Pretty sure tea did not feature in the book.

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What Happens in Amsterdam

…sort of ruins Ian McEwan’s book, Amsterdam, as far as I’m concerned. Most of the novel takes place in England, and is quietly excellent. It’s just the last section in the eponymous city. The weird section.

On the plus side, the book is really short.

The word I most want to use to describe that ending, actually, is silly. Continue reading

Hell House and the Truth

I’ve just walked in my door feeling thoroughly inspired. Waleed Aly is the man. Scott Stephens, Dr Benjamin Myers, and Clare Bowditch are pretty damn cool too. These four brought their blazing intellects to bear on a rather unusual play we’d all just seen together. I’ve never seen such an engaging panel discussion.

The play was Hell House, put on by Back to Back Theatre at the Arts House Meat Market, North Melbourne. (Within walking distance of my new house, just quietly). I feel a bit strange calling it a play though. The performance was originally created by an evangelical preacher in Texas in the seventies. It was and is essentially a fundamentalist Christian haunted house, filled with illustrative sinners being damned. The intention is to frighten the audience–especially the teenage audience–away from the sins of homosexuality, pre-marital sex, alcoholism, etc. One of the original creators of the thing distributes scripts and instruction sets (including fake blood recipes) to help other Churches set up Hell Houses. Back to Back got themselves one of those packages, and set up a faithful recreation, far from the Bible belt. The program explains that they intended to “present the work as a museum would a religious artefact.” Continue reading